If you could become a superhero, would you? Of course you would. Or at least get super powers. But what if you had to die to do it? Would you then? And can you really trust the kind of person who would do that to themselves?

Eli and Victor are young gifted students at a fictitious school in some kind of fictitious America. Their relationship is very much A Separate Peace just with super powers thrown in. You know the kind, two boys who are friends but secretly hate each other because they are both sociopaths. Anyways, they both seem to be pre-med but are so brilliant they could probably do whatever they want. And what Eli wants is to study EOs. ExtraOrdinary’s – the unproven existence of humans possessing impossible abilities, a la X-Men. And what they find together is that EOs exist, and the way to create them is to kill a human and bring them back to life.

So, of course both boys do it and gain impossible abilities. And completely fall into their sociopathic ways. Now, Eli is combing the country, killing all EOs because they are not a part of God’s plan. And Victor wants to kill Eli. As soon as he gets out of prison.

Told in an exciting, and sometimes very confusing, time jump sequence; Vicious is neither good nor bad. There’s enough interesting moments to keep you reading, but the rest is kind of meh. I couldn’t buy the world Schwab was trying to insert me into. Are you telling me that EOs are known enough that a pre-med student can talk about it for his thesis but there’s no proof they exist? Really? And that every police unit has a guy who specifically handles EO threats…but they don’t exist? You’d think it at least would be the FBI.

A good story of vengeance (the title of the second book) is always welcome. And that’s what kept me going: Victor’s quest for bloodshed. I was also interested in the idea of making oneself a superhero. The moral question of IF and WHY. But the world building lacked in this semi-unique superhero origin story (not to mention that completely unrealistic depiction of guns) in a way that kept me from loving it like so many others do.

2 out of 4 stars.

Still might read the sequel though. Schwab is a very highly rated author.

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